Wintergreen Advisors’s Top Stock Picks Include Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B)

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Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A)We track quarterly 13F filings from hundreds of hedge funds, including David Winters’s Wintergreen Advisors, as part of our work developing investment strategies (we have found, for example, that the most popular small cap stocks among hedge funds earn an average excess return of 18 percentage points per year). While the information in these filings is a bit old (the most recent ones are from the end of March) Wintergreen tends to be a longer-term investor, and in any case its picks can still be treated as free investment ideas (where investors can do further research on interesting names) rather than a list of stocks to blindly imitate. Read on for our quick take on Wintergreen’s five largest holdings from the filing or see the full list of the fund’s stock picks.

Winters owned 1.3 million Class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.B), making Warren Buffett’s holding company the largest position in his portfolio. Value investors universally admire Buffett, but don’t always have the humility to trust the #1 slot in their portfolio to his discretionary investment activities. Find Buffett’s favorite stocks. Of course, in some cases this may be because value funds balk at the premium valuation Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.B) carries relative to book (the P/B ratio is 1.5) or because of uncertainty as to whether or not Buffett’s successors will be similarly skilled in investing.

David WintersWintergreen slightly increased its holdings of Franklin Resources, Inc. (NYSE:BEN), the $31 billion market cap asset manager, to a total of about 780,000 shares. The company grew its revenue and earnings by a little over 10% each in its most recent quarterly report (for the quarter ending in March 2013) compared to the same period in the previous fiscal year, though we’d note that U.S. market indices were up during that time frame. The stock trades at 15 times trailing earnings, and so could be a value play if it can deliver at least modest growth in the future.

Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM) was another of Winters’s top picks with the filing disclosing ownership of 1.2 million shares. The cigarette company is valued at trailing and forward earnings multiples of 17 and 14, respectively. In theory the company’s international focus gives it better growth prospects than its peers , but still in value terms it seems a bit pricy considering that business has been generally stagnant going by recent reports. Of course, cigarette stocks do tend to be high yielders and Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM) is no exception with recent quarterly dividend payments implying an annual yield of 3.8%.

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